QUESTION: I plan to finish my attic soon. I intended to use gypsum board for the walls, since I had heard it was cheaper than most other wall materials. I now have been told I should use plasterboard instead. Is that information correct?
ANSWER: There may have been a slight difference in plasterboard and gypsum board many years ago, but the terms have meant the same thing for a long time. If you have never used gypsum board in the past--and your query indicates this is so--be sure to have your dealer supply you with a brochure on how to handle the material.
Wood Bleach Needed for Removing Stain
Q: We have a large stain on our living room floor, which is made of oak. We don't know how it got there, but we have tried all of the usual methods without being able to remove it. Is there some drastic treatment that might work with an especially difficult stain?
A: You probably will have to use wood bleach. Use it very carefully to avoid discoloring the wood that is not stained. Wear rubber gloves when applying the bleach with a damp cloth. Let the bleach stand for a few minutes, then wipe with a damp cloth that has no bleach on it. You will have to refinish the area to blend in with the other surface. Sometimes this means wiping on a finish more than once until you get a reasonably good match.
Fixing a Squeaky Tread in Staircase
Q: We are getting a squeak from the steps going from our first floor to the second. A careful examination shows an up-and-down movement when someone stands on the front tread where it goes out a bit over the riser. Will putting powdered graphite on that area stop the squeak?
A: Probably. But it will be only temporary. The loose tread should be fastened down by driving two or three nails into it near the edge. The nails should be hammered in at an angle so they form a V in the wood.
Be sure the nails go into the top of the riser, but also be careful they do not miss the riser entirely. Screws also can be used for the repair, but they will have to be countersunk and the indentations plugged or filled. If the stairs are made of oak or similar hardwood, drill pilot holes for either the nails or the screws.
Seal Terrazzo Floor to Prevent Staining
Q: Our house has a terrazzo floor just inside the front entrance. Is there any special way to care for it?
A: Be sure it is thoroughly clean, then apply a sealer to it. This is advisable because terrazzo, while highly durable and resistant to moisture, is subject to staining. Keep the surface sealed in and any stain will stay on top of the sealer and then can be cleaned off. Ask your dealer for a sealer that is compatible with terrazzo.
Shake Paint Can More If You Still Hear Noise
Q: I used a paint can lately, the kind that emits a spray. What is the noise I hear when I shake the can?
A: That's a small steel ball that helps to mix the paint. When you hear it, keep shaking the can for about a minute, then go ahead and spray.
Latex Preferred for Painting Concrete
Q: We want to paint the concrete walkway around the swimming pool at the back of our house. Can a latex paint be used or is it better to use an oil-based paint?
A: Latex paint formulated for use on concrete is generally considered better than an oil-based paint for such a purpose. Epoxy paints are considered tops, but cost more.
Local Laws Govern Termite Protection
Q: What should we do about protecting a house against termites? The house is only in the blueprint stage now, but we expect to have work started on it soon.
A: Since you mention "the blueprint stage," it is probable you have hired an architect to design the house. If so, accept his advice about termite protection, since the laws have changed in recent years about what can and cannot be done to prevent termites. Certain chemicals are banned or must be applied by a licensed professional. If you have no architect, talk to your contractor about the matter. No matter what you decide, somebody must check with local authorities about the regulations in your community.
The techniques of using varnish, lacquer, shellac, remover, bleach, stain, etc., are detailed in Andy Lang's booklet, "Wood Finishing in the Home," which can be obtained by sending $1 and a long, stamped, self-addressed envelope to Know-How, P.O. Box 477, Huntington, N.Y. 11743. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column.